Hands on impressions of Gwent from E3 2016

Gwent Will Expand On The Witcher Lore With Its Story Mode (Hands-On Preview)

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After adding Gwent as a mini-game in The Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red received millions of emails from players requesting a standalone Gwent card game. Not only that, but The Witcher 3 players we’re spending hours just seeking out and playing against Gwent players in the game’s taverns. Well CD Projekt Red has answered the call and developed Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, but this isn’t just about playing a card game in friendly or ranked matches; we’ll actually get to delve even further into The Witcher lore through Gwent’s campaign mode.

The game features a few campaigns based on four different decks, and each campaign will take up to 10 hours to complete. Campaigns include beautiful 2D cutscenes, along with a birds-eye view when you traverse the world with Geralt (or the other characters you’ll get to play as). The art-style of this mode is completely different to the actual Witcher games and it’s stylized in a beautiful animated tone. Ultimately, it resembles a point and click adventure game with all battles in the game being represented by Gwent itself.

When you think about it conceptually it’s quite ironic that Gwent went from being a mini-game in The Witcher 3 that the characters are consciously aware of playing, to now being the crux (and core gameplay element) of these new Witcher stories.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game deck buider

As Gwent‘s card battles represents the game’s conflicts, you’ll hear characters in the story reacting to the different situations that occur in the matches in real-time as certain cards get played. These character reactions mixed in with the newly touched up interface brings a livelier atmosphere to the matches. Even the cards themselves come to life with animation.

Though I loved the simple interface of the original Gwent from The Witcher 3, this new one makes the previous look static and mundane. The new interface looks intimidating at first because there’s so much to take in. In fact, it took me a few moments to figure out who’s turn it actually was to make a move because the interface is so cluttered that the turn indicator isn’t as visible as it should be.

Regardless, Gwent is still straight forward and easy to learn and once you know the ins and outs you’ll be comfortable with the new look.

Gwent has been re-balanced from the ground up to ensure it won’t be a lopsided or exploitable card game. The cards have been given new abilities, and there are many more special cards that can be played to make the difference between a win and a loss.

gwent-6-your-hand

In the game I played against another member of the media, I had lost the first round and played my best cards to win the second. I was sure I was about to see defeat in the final round, but the last card I had was a scorcher card that eliminated the opponent’s most powerful cards from the board, and seeing as they had no card left it won me the game.

The four decks that were shown in the demo are Monsters, Northern Armies, Socia’tael, and Skellige and all decks have a different approach to battle. For example, the Scoia’tael focuses on deception by way of placing units on the enemies’ side of the board to sabotage them. Monsters focus strictly on strength and offence, which can either be enhanced or countered with weather based cards.

The Witcher universe is stuffed with interesting lore, so it’s great that we now get to explore the world further through Gwent. The storyline isn’t just focused on Geralt which will help to get a better understanding of the other factions.

Gwent match
This is the new match interface

Interestingly, I also heard from a CD Projekt developer that Gwent wasn’t just a made up mini-game thrown into The Witcher 3. Gwent was an actual card game from The Witcher novels, so it really is embedded in The Witcher‘s lore.

Gwent will be free-to-play for Xbox One, PC and PS4. However, there will be in-game purchases that allow you to buy new decks and cards. This of course raises balancing concerns, but I have every confidence that CD Projekt will ensure Gwent doesn’t simply become a buy to win game.

You can currently register for the Gwent closed beta for Xbox One and PC.

About The Author
Gary A. Swaby Co-founder/UK Managing Editor
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